J.D. Ho
Author and Children's Book Reviewer

Overview As a collection of comic-book stories for easy readers, “Patrick in ‘A Teddy Bear’s Picnic’” by Geoffrey Hayes provides the visual clues that emerging readers need to master the “Z” reading pattern (left to right, top to bottom).
Subject English Language Arts
Grade Level 1-2
Objectives Students will improve their reading comprehension by learning to use visual context clues and text features to understand the story’s progression.
Before Reading Preview the book and discuss how it looks different from other books you’ve read. What visual information can you use to tell you how to read? How will we know when to turn the page?
During Reading Draw attention to directionality in the panels. How can you tell when characters are moving in a certain direction? What does it mean when a character runs to the left as opposed to the right?

The art often provides cues that propel the story forward and make us want to turn the page. For instance, in the bottom right corner of many spreads, Patrick is moving off to the right, as if he’s walking to the next page (i.e. pg. 7). Are there other cues? What about the bird at the bottom of p. 23? What about the direction the characters are facing (i.e. pg. 13)? What happens if a character isn’t moving to the right at the bottom of the page (such as on p. 11)? Does that make you pause? Is the moment more dramatic?

On page 5, the bird is looking downward, prompting the reader to look below as well, where the characters are interacting with each other. What other such visual clues are provided throughout the book?
After Reading Talk about how to read pages with one background where the character appears multiple times -- i.e. pages 13 and 17. The figures that appear in the top left and the bottom right provide a definite beginning and end. As with paneled pages, the action moves from left to right and top to bottom in a kind of Z shape. How do the word balloons help us read in the correct order?

Activity sheet: Within 3 panels, have students make a drawing in which they show themselves doing something step by step.